Video: E36 M3 Sets a 7:25 Lap at the Nurburgring!

It just goes to show that you don’t need turbos, eight cylinders, traction control, or a carbon tub to work magic at the Nurburgring. All that’s needed is a tried-and-true staple of the trackday world, a level head, knowledge of the circuit, and a little experience. However, the experience needed isn’t all that signficiant: Alex Hardt, the driver seen here, is just twenty-three years old.

His track tool is well-prepared, but not overly complicated. KW coilovers adorn all four corners, Dunlop Direzza tires add some more grip, polycarbonate windows reduce the heft, and a full cage keeps Hardt safe and the chassis stiff. Based on the odd whine from the tires rubbing, it’s likely he got a proper alignment for this sort of endeavor.

Though there’s more to his setup, the fact is he has what’s needed and knows how to use it. The BMW turns in incisively and Hardt’s steering inputs are always calm and measured, and traction at the corner exit is very strong; the rears never struggle to put the S52’s power down. However, the real hero here is Hardt’ and his relaxed, mature driving. Though he’s just a tyke, his driving is measured, sensible, and still very fast. For those reasons, he can scythe through traffic by anticipating the other cars’ behavior and keep his own momentum up.

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Through the faster sections, the factory spoiler and a small front lip seem to keep the car stable, and a conservative approach helps in this regard, too. Hardt never seems to bite off more than he can chew, and keeps his mid-corner speed up without flirting too aggressively with the ragged edge of adhesion.

The car’s no rocket ship, but it is supple and responsive, and when paired with a driver with intimate knowledge of the Nordschliefe, the result is a staggering 7:25 lap. For reference, that’s what the Ferrari Enzo managed back in 2008. Considering how this BMW probably costs as much as a wing mirror on the Italian flagship, that’s a pretty decent bargain.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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